Just wanted to share a few thoughts I had as I Ponder this Memorial Day:
Many soldiers did not come back from wars ugly embrace, many who did are still drowning under the weight of its cruel grip. They breath pain and exhale guilt. Their smiles are gone and only exist in the sorrow of Yesterday. Many vetrans believe, it would have been better to die in a place where honor and duty paved a road to heights above the mountain plattue, into the puffy cloud filled sky.
22 Veterans a day lose their lives because the of the burden of memories gone by is just to heavy to carry on. Some gave some, some gave all but many still continue to fight, just trying to find a way home..
We can do better, we must do better. Every day is should be Memorial Day.
Looking for a good motorcycle documentary then check out “The Ride- London to Beijing”. The series follows a novice group of riders who struggle to endure an epic motor bike journey from Western Europe to Northern China. The greenhorn riders are led by a Guinness World Record Endurance Rider, Kevin Sanders. The expedition is filled with adventure, challenges, and unforgettable landscape and is expertly edited and narrated. The 12-week story keeps one engaged throughout the series and leaves the viewer looking for more. The series could have used a bit more character development but that really is not the intended purpose of this kind of production. At the end of the day, the documentary gave insight into a challenging adventure and what it takes to accomplish such an exploit. I enjoyed this series a bit better than “The Long Way Round” because if feels more real and raw then the two-wheeled adventures of Ewan McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman.
The leader of this expedition, Kevin Sanders just seems to be the type of individual anyone would follow and has an ability to weight risk verses reward options that manage successes. It takes guts to lead a ramble of rookie riders through the terrain that was overcome by the group. I have been riding for 18 years and I would have been bloody petrified to take on some of the challenges that the riders accomplished.
They travel some hairy, muddy terrain on heavy expensive BMW Adventure Tour Motorcycles. One of these days, I would like to see a motorcycle documentary use a few inexpensive lighter weight duel sport cycles to achieve their objectives. I get that the BMW is a solid reliable tough bike to get the job done but is it more dependable then let’s say a Suzuki DR-Z 400? Even better, use a Royal Enfield Himalayan to do the job. One can buy 4 Himalayan’s at the price of a new BMW 1200 GS and they are easier to repair given their more simplistic technology. I am not saying the Royal Enfield is a better bike then the coveted BMW Adventure Tour King, but I do believe both can get you to the same places at much different price points. One may get you there much slower than the other, but it will arrive just the same.
At the end of the day, “The Ride- London to Beijing” is a fun watch which will help motivate you to start planning your next epic adventure. The series is not overly long which is great for those who have commitment issues. In fact, when it ended, I was left yearning for more.
A blizzard roars outside causing the house to creek with fear, the wind is relentless. My hope is that our pipes will not freeze this cold squally evening. With no electricity, I am on battery power and hope to put thoughts on paper before my laptop fades away. Just a few days ago the roads cleared enough to take my cycle for much-needed maintenance ride. It was a cold day, but that short trip on two wheels brought needed joy in the form of adrenaline to my mind and body. Winter never dies, it just fades away in Colorado. It’s mid-March, I thought the worst was behind us, but Old Man Winter is not done tormenting my soul. Motorcyclist are not bound by the rules of society or cultural norms, but a polar vortex will surely stop us in our tracks.
My hope was that the riding season was upon us, but I know now that my dream was just a fleeting glimpse of reality. Hope can be a wild beast to ride, but it’s a ride worth living. Hope drives us to find a better tomorrow and uplifts our spirits during time of need. Hope is one of the greatest motivational forces and is an immensely powerful force of good which can dictate positive action.
Another survival tactic that one can rely on is to dive into the situation fully immersed without dwelling upon the situation and its many negative characteristics. The Phrase “Embrace the Suck” epitomizes this theory of living. When you are in a situation where life is just bleak and miserable, and one does not have any control of external influences than sometimes the best track is to dive into the misery and let it become you. It’s about not wishing for a change in the environment but finding the good within it. If you are willing to open your eyes, most situations have something that one can be thankful for. “Embrace the Suck” goes deeper then that; one must be willing to fully commit to the situation they are in and put forth all effort to enjoy it without a logical approach of reasoning. It’s a mindset, a way to propel yourself forward by throwing yourself into the ugly reality and enjoying it.
Keep the rubber side down, the sun shall shine again as the new dawn approaches.
Arizona can be that early winter destination you are looking for. I have been immersed in cool nights, warm days and have even seen a few clouds drifting, as if on vacation in the arid desert sky. Sedona is the place that sticks out the most from my travels through Arizona. It is nestled in a mountainous, mesa filled topography that makes one feel like they are roaming upon ancient sacred lands. There is a certain feeling or vibe that emanates from the ground that induces pure thought and elusive peace. It’s just a great place to dwell upon thoughts long lost. The residents of Sedona call this energy, “vortexes” and after speaking with them, I found that tourist travel from throughout the globe to visit Sedona to bath within the energy that dwells in this majestic place. I spoke with my sister the day I visited Sedona. She asked if our father who has long since passed away would have liked the place? I immediately replied that I had a feeling that he visited Sedona at one time and thoroughly enjoyed it and suggested that he may have traveled through Sedona while hitch hiking across the country when he was a young man. It was just a feeling that was within my mind, not based upon any previous conversation I had with him. Her reply back to me was that both times she visited Sedona, that she felt that my father was along with her for the journey. It was just a spontaneous conversation that occurred between siblings via a text but now that I dwell upon it, both our feelings on the matter give that conversation substance and made my visit to Sedona that much more special.
Was able to visit the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge AZ. There is not much left to this ancient Hohokam Village but what remains is rather impressive given its 700 year battle against the relentless desert sun. Visiting sites like this give me pause to dwell upon the many footsteps that have tread upon the land throughout our human evolution. It is unfathomable to comprehend the amount of skill, ingenuity, and complete dedication to survival it took for these industrious people to not only survive in such a hostile arid climate but thrive.
I am always so proud of myself when I go to IKEA and buy a pre-fabricated table and successfully put it together. The Hohokam Peoples, hunted where animals did not dwell, grew crops where water did not exist and built a village with little to no natural resources other than dirt and tenacity. Portions of this historic settlement still exist as a monument to those who have refused to give up even when all seemed lost and hope was beyond reason. I can’t help but to think of the words of Winston Churchill who said, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
When you tell people about your passion for riding, do you describe that you’re a motorcyclist or do explain that you ride a specified brand of motorcycle? I always thought of myself as a greater part of the two-wheel community rather than identifying with a certain segment of the motorcycling culture. I have never limited my riding companions to a certain style of bike or brand; my theory has always been, all are welcome. There are so many genres of motorcycles out there, its hard to keep up with the many riding styles. Cruisers, sport touring, duel sport, standard, adventure, and crotch rockets, are just a few. Over the last 18 years, I have ridden mostly cruisers. The relax riding position, comfort and ease of use fitted my personality and I have enjoyed the ride so much that I never thought of trying something different. On a trip last year, we rode approximately thirteen miles on a dirt road up a moderate incline to find a ghost town hidden in the mountains. My friend was riding an adventure tourer that was dirt ready. I watched him tearing up the path and weaving in and out of side trails on his cycle and was mesmerized by the amount of freedom which his cycle provided. He was not confined to a roadway; a whole new world was available for the taking on a duel sport motorcycle. That was the moment I knew I wanted to try riding in dirt, all I needed was knobby tires and the courage to go off roading. Being inquisitive, I began exploring duel sport motorcycling and found that I knew absolutely nothing about this style of riding. During my research, I learned about the Trans-America Trail or TAT. This is a rural, scenic pathway and consist of mostly unpaved trails which leads west from Tennessee and maneuvers its way to the Pacific Ocean. From riding hard pack farm roads, to single track mountain passes, this trail defines “variety of terrain”. The TAT was the brain child of Sam Correro and through his hard work as well as countless volunteers, one can ride this trail for months on end with the guidance of maps and GPS downloads. It took almost 12 years to link the remote pathways together to formulate this continuous trail system. What totally surprised me is the TAT runs directly through Colorado and is located within 45 miles of my home. How could I have not known of this wondrous trail system that caters to motorcyclist and it sits in my back yard. I am ashamed to admit it but was guilty of being pigeonholed into one certain genre of motorcycling and I realized that there is so much more to learn about our two wheeled community.
One does not have to give up their preferred style of riding but that does not mean you can’t learn and explore other aspects of riding. I went an extreme route and traded in my cruiser for a Royal Enfield Himalayan. Here are a few photos of my recent trip into the mountain trails in Colorado.
Little Round Top is hallowed ground; it’s a place where courage, death, and valor met on a bloody hill. It’s a place where the extreme heroic actions of a few, helped extend the reach of freedom for those in bondage. Union men defended that small knoll and their sacrifice literally saved a young nation. Little Round Top served as the last Southern anchor point of the Union Army on the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. If the defending soldiers were overwhelmed by the Confederate forces at this critical location, then the Union Armies Left Flank would fall. The Confederates would then gain the high ground and like dominoes, the Union Army would have toppled upon its self. If the Union Army was routed at Gettysburg in the Northern State of Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert Lee would be free to march his Army south uncontested and force President Lincoln to capitulate to the Confederate Cause.
On the early morning of July 2, 1863, the high ground on the Union Force’s far left flank laid undefended from an impending Confederate attack. Without orders and on his own initiative, Union Colonel Strong Vincent, knowing the vital importance of the position ordered his Third Brigade to occupy and defend the high ground at a small hill called Little Round Top. The order to secure this vital position was given to the 20th Maine Volunteers Commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Only a year previous, Colonel Chamberlain was a Professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine. He spoke more than 8 languages fluently but had little military experience and only became the Commander of the Infantry Company a month previously. Colonel Chamberlain was given the order from Colonel Strong Vincent to, “hold the ground at all hazards”. Within minutes of taking their positions on that little rocky hill, the 20th Maine was attacked by the 15th Alabama, Commanded by Colonel William Oates. Multiple attacks by the Confederates were thrown up that hill and were repulsed by the Union Troops. After each attack, the Confederates shifted their forces to flank and overwhelm the 20th Maine. After many assaults on their position, Union Forces found themselves stretched thin and without ammunition to defend against another attack. Colonel Chamberlain’s orders were clear, there was to be no surrender. Without hope of reinforcements, little ammunition nor men to hold the line, the situation was dire. At that moment, the Professor from Bowdoin College gave the order to those left in his Command to equip bayonets. With no other options available, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain issued the order to attack down the blood drenched hill. This action served to confuse and disorient the Confederate Forces and turned the tide of the battle. The Confederate forces never recovered from the Chamberlain’s bayonet charge and were driven from the field saving the high ground and the Union’s left flank.
Colonel William Oats, Commander of the 15th Alabama Infantry who lost half his force on that gory day explained, “the dead literally covered the ground”. Union Army Colonel Strong Vincent who ordered the defense of Little Round Top was mortally wounded while rallying his men. He was promoted to General while on his death bed before succumbing to his wounds. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain survived the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and continued to lead men into battle. At the Second Battle of Petersburg, Colonel Chamberlain was severely wounded and was suspected to die of his wounds and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He even out maneuvered death and survived the wound to live till age 85. After the war he served as the Governor of Maine as well as President of Bowdoin College.
The History that can still be felt at Little Round Top is palatable to the senses. Take the time to wonder the many monuments dedicated to all that fought there. My suggestion is to read the book “Killer Angeles” by Michael Shaara. Its not a long read but is informative beyond measure and written in such a way that is pure historical bliss. Reading the book will help you acclimatize yourself to the many facets of the Battle of Gettysburg and will give you additional information to help you more enjoy your visit.